Why do hamsters chew bars?

Most hamster owners will recognise the sound of a hamster chewing on the bars of their cage. But why do hamsters chew bars? Do they have to chew anything? Is chewing bars good or bad for your hamster? And if it’s bad for them, then how do you stop them doing it?

In this short article, we answer all of these questions to help you understand why hamsters chew bars and what you need to do if you hear your hamster chewing on its cage!

The reasons why hamsters chew bars

The first thing you need to understand is the reason why hamsters chew bars and other objects. It’s because their four front teeth continually grow throughout their lives. If your hamster didn’t chew on things then their front teeth would grow to be far too long. Chewing helps keep the teeth at a healthy length.

Megan-300You may be thinking ‘Great! So chewing bars is a good thing?’. Unfortunately not. Chewing bars is definitely not good for your hamster!

As well as chewing to keep their teeth short, chewing bars can also be a sign that your hamster is bored, stressed, or being kept in too small a cage (in other words, they’re trying to escape!). Clearly this isn’t good. And there are physical problems caused by chewing bars too…

Why is chewing bars bad for hamsters?

Although hamsters are meant to chew things, metal bars are far from ideal chew toys! Chewing the metal bars of their cage can damage your hamsters teeth and cause them to become misaligned. Misaligned teeth will need regular trimming and, if left untreated, could even grow up into your hamsters brain and kill them!

Also, as mentioned above, chewing can be a sign of psychological discomfort, and we’re sure that you want your hamster to be happy as well as physically healthy.

How to stop hamsters from chewing bars

We know that hamsters need to chew something to keep their teeth from getting too long. And we know that chewing bars is not good for them. That only leaves one solution…

Give your hamster something more suitable to chew on.

You should try adding some of the following items to your hamster’s cage to see whether they will chew on these instead:

  • Wooden chew toys
  • Unflavoured dog biscuits
  • Carrots and other foods that they can gnaw on

These should help your hamster keep their teeth nice and short.

However, as we’ve already said, as well as chewing to keep their teeth short, hamsters also have a tendency to chew when they’re bored. To prevent this, you should make sure that your hamster always has something inside their cage to keep them occupied and stop them from getting bored. A hamster wheel is ideal for this.

What if all of this doesn’t work?

If your hamster has plenty of suitable objects to chew on, and something to keep them entertained in their cage, and they still chew bars, then we recommend moving your hamster to an aquarium style home free from any metal bars.

Here’s an example of the kind of alternative hamster home available, rather than a traditional cage:

Do not just put up with your hamster chewing bars and hope that it will be okay. It can be very, very bad for their health, so you need to put a stop to it as soon as you possibly can!